Complaint Filed Against UT-Austin Over 'Offensive' Song 'The Eyes of Texas'

Representatives from the Texas chapter of the NAACP and the University of Texas at Austin's NAACP chapter have filed a complaint regarding the school's song, "The Eyes of Texas," saying that it is offensive to Black students at the university.

According to the Texas Tribune, the complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and it claimed that Black students face a "hostile environment" from the song being an official part of the university. The complaint also said that the song had a "racially offensive origin, context and meaning," the Tribune reported.

The complaint also alleged that the Black students at the university who are against the song, have faced harassment, which the University of Texas at Austin has failed to respond to, according to the Tribune.

The university has previously faced protests against the continued use of the song at sporting events, as many have argued that the song is tied to racist messaging. The song was first performed in 1903 by white students. Members of the Texas Longhorns football team also issued a statement that said that the song should no longer be played.

But in March, the university released a report which said "The Eyes of Texas" will remain the school's "alma mater" and that the song "had no racist intent."

Additionally, after many students in the Longhorn Band refused to play the song at sporting events, the university's Butler School of Music created a new band where students were not required to play the song.

According to the Tribune, the complaint filed on Friday also alleged the creation of the additional band goes against student's equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education told Newsweek that the department does not acknowledge complaints made unless they are accepted for investigation.

Newsweek reached out to the University of Texas at Austin for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

While speaking with the Tribune, Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and Al-Nasser Lawal, president of the UT-Austin chapter of the NAACP, both said that they attempted to speak with university leaders to voice their concerns over the song.

"As Black students, we kind of feel as if it's not like our voices are heard," Lawal, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Tribune. "The main objective of the administration and the campus is just to appease their wealthy donors so that they can continue to get that funding, and that they don't really have our best interests at heart."

Bledsoe told the Tribune that a group of anonymous students were also part of the complaint filed, adding that they chose to remain anonymous as they did not face consequences from the university.

While speaking with Newsweek, Bledsoe said that the song has created a "perpetually hostile" environment for Black students at the university.

"The African American students have the same rights as other students and they shouldn't be required to participate in their own humiliation," Bledsoe told Newsweek.

Bledsoe told Newsweek that he "absolutely" hopes the complaint will lead to the discontinuation of the song at the university.

University of Texas at Austin
Members of the Texas chapter of the NAACP and students at the University of Texas at Austin have filed a complaint regarding the school's song, "The Eyes of Texas." Above, a view of the Texas Longhorns logo at midfield before the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Tim Warner/Getty

Updated September 8, 2021, 1:55 p.m. ET this story has been updated to include statements from Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and a spokesperson for the Department of Education.